Just like she did in her military days, Tiffini Peterson improvised. On stormy mornings when the rain seemed to come at every direction and umbrellas did little to keep them dry, Peterson would cover her kids' backpacks with trash bags.
Peterson started wondering if there was a better fix than plastic bags, but the single mom of three girls in Apex also had plenty to keep her busy. Peterson is a disabled military veteran who served in both the Army and the Navy for nearly a decade and now suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome.
She's never been especially crafty, but, before her mother died in 2013, Peterson made caps. They kept her mom warm during radiation and chemotherapy. The hobby also was critical as Peterson worked through PTSD. "It helped me to focus on something else," she said.
Still, those backpack covers were at the back of her mind. A dream finally got her started. In the dream, Peterson remembers, her mom told her to make the bags. BaggitzGirlz began. The business is part of our Made by Mom Gift Guide, presented by Midwifery at Women's Health Alliance.
BaggitzGirlz features waterproof backpack and bag covers with reflective strips that students and others can use as they travel to and from work and school on rainy days. The waterproof covers come in several different patterns, colors and sizes. Secured with a clip, they fit over backpacks and other bags when it's raining. One version includes an opening for easy access to a bag's exterior pocket.
Peterson also knew it was important to include a reflective strip on the covers to ensure that drivers and others could see kids standing at the bus stop, for instance.
It took some time for Peterson, who works full time in law enforcement and recently completed her master's degree in health care management, to come up with the right design. She experimented with fabric purchased from bins at Goodwill and also contacted a patent attorney about her design. It's a bare bones production.
"I pretty much make what my pockets will allow," she said.
Just a few months after launching her business on Etsy, she's already gotten a lot of interest, including calls from motorcycle shops interested in carrying her bags.
Peterson's three daughters each have provided ideas that she's incorporated into the design of the bag. All together, Peterson said, they are the BaggitsGirlz.
Peterson tells me she never expected to be doing something like this.
"I was in the military," she said. "That was what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life. An injury took me out."
But, she said, she's grateful that she's been able to start a business that has the potential to help and protect kids. She's also working to give back. She is donating 10 percent of her profits to the Wounded Warriors Project to help disabled veterans like her.
"It's exciting," she said. And, because of that dream featuring her mother's advice, "I feel like my mom is part of it."
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.